Gary Gary Moore's first album under his own name will be something of a surprise to fans who are just familiar with his hard rock or blues phases but, bearing in mind this was 1973 and he was barely out of his teens, with hindsight there were some hints about what was to come. Gary was a prolific songwriter (I don't think he ever received the credit he deserved for this) and has sole writing credits. There are also elements of interest which Gary didn't develop later (such as his multi-layered vocals), there is a surprising Allman Brothers Band influence in places - with Moore twin-tracking his guitar lines and even a touch of Santana. Despite the band being in essence a 3-piece, keyboards from guest Jan Schelhaas (later of Prog outfits Caravan and Camel) are much in evidence and some of the lengthy keyboard passages aren't far off what Gary and Don Airey would explore in Colosseum II a few years later - the title track and "The Energy Dance" are both instrumentals and that (short) track has only piano and synth. That track aside, they are typically long (from 5-10 mins), giving the Gary Moore Band ample scope to explore its musical ideas. At over 17 mins, "Spirit" is very Prog-rock, with lengthy instrumental passages and the album clocks-in at almost 50 mins.
Gary's vocals are often rocky - particularly on "Time To Heal" - but on the wonderful "Sail Across The Mountain" (my favourite track here) he also shows his more soulful side. The quality of all the musicianship is high, as is the production by Martin Birch (Iron Maiden etc.). Although Gary's signature sound and style were not yet fully developed, there's plenty of speed and skill on show along with wah wah and slide guitar.
There were some who doubted Moore's claim to blues credentials after his hard rock phase ended - they should take a listen to "Boogie My Way Back Home" for proof of where his musical roots lay. I like this album (so 4*) but it's perhaps not one to visit before some of his later classics if you are new to Gary's work - there is much to enjoy elsewhere although, if you're curious about the earlier days, here too.
After Skid Row, Gary has his own band - and gives us a glimpse of what's ahead - with mix of Frenetic Rock guitar and Beautiful Ballads - Sail Across the Mountain still one of my favourite GM tracks ever.
6 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?